tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN February 2, 2013 7:00am-8:00am EST
to help nevada businesses even more, we will also restructure the nearly $703 million nevada owes to the federal government used to pay unemployment benefits to nevadans who are out of work. this will stabilize the rate paid by businesses and insure that the entire amount is paid off by 2016. [applause] >> we will also work on project neon, a project that will meet the most critical transportation needs of southern nevada. project neon is perhaps the largest public works project in nevada since the construction of hoover dam. [applause]
it will completely modernize the infrastructure of the grid and insure that our commute is safer and more efficient for decades to come. [applause] nevada must continue to lead in other ways, and no opportunity is as rich with promise as our primary industry, gaming. nevada was the first state to legalize and regulate online gaming. in the absence of federal action on this issue, nevada must continue to lead. the nevada gaming control board will bring legislation to eliminate nevada's statutory barriers to interstate online poker and ask for authority to enter into interstate agreements. nevada has always been the gold
standard of both gaming regulation and operation, and i intend to see to it that our state will lead the world into this new frontier. [applause] other states are moving quickly on this issue, and i respectfully ask the legislature to pass a bill within 30 days. the promise of these ideas is real. the chance to innovate is exciting. but even as we work to modernize our economy and set a new course toward a brighter economic future, we must address the consequences of the prolonged economic downturn. last month i announced that nevada would comply with the provisions of the affordable care act as they related to the expansion of medicaid services.
as a result, some 78,000 more nevadans will now have coverage without facing the new tax penalties imposed by the affordable care act. [applause] the federal law allows us to shift mental health and other state spending to medicaid sources, saving the general fund nearly $25 million over the biennium. over the next six years, this comprehensive approach will create up to 8,000 new health care jobs and inject over a half billion dollars into our state's economy. and, as i've noted before, we must reduce taxes on businesses to help them bear the increased costs of the affordable care act. but the issue of long-term health care costs remain. as such, i believe we must ask
certain medicaid patients to make a modest contribution toward the cost of their own care, and i will insist that nevada be able to opt out of the medicaid expansion program in future years should circumstances change. [applause] beyond medicaid my budget provides additional funding for our state's most vulnerable citizens. it includes more support for autism and early intervention services, piloting 24/7 mental health can care in southern nevada and increased community-based services for nevada's disabled and senior citizens. [applause] we've all been touched by the housing crisis over these last
few years, and nevada denies continue to -- nevadans continue to struggle with home foreclosures. last year thousands of nevadans attended a free housing assistance event in las vegas sponsored by our own department of business and industry called home means nevada. at the comprehensive event, over 250 representatives from banks met with homeowners and provided help on the spot. while many nevadans received assistance at that event, we must continue to do more. working with the attorney general, katherine cortez masto, my administration will use multistate settlement funds to assist nevadans who have been hardest hit by the housing crisis. we are obligated as leaders to find ways to keep people in their homes and families together, and i will use every available means at my disposal to protect and help the people
who fight every or day to -- every day to stay in their most important possession, their home. [applause] >> the recession has hurt the entire nevada family. state employees have seep their pay cut -- have seen their or or pay cut, and they have been required to take unpaid furlough days. tonight i am announcing that we will be able to provide some relief to them as well. merit pay will be restored for state employees beginning on july 1, 2014, and the number of required furlough days will be cut in half as of july 1 of this year. thank you to all state employees. [applause]
there's another group that te serves our -- deserves our attention and respect, our veterans. the men and women who have served our nation in two wars are coming home. tonight i ask you to join me in remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who have not yet returned. over 300 nevadans remain deployed with our army and air national guard, and many more of nevada's finest are serving in uniform at home and abroad. with us tonight is one marine recently returned home, a reminder of of all those who remain deployed, gunnery
since then he has served his country with dignity and honor being deployed four times to iraq and afghanistan. ben returned home from afghanistan a little over a month ago after serbing alongside -- after serving alongside a weapons company that engaged in heavy combat. gunnery sergeant streiffler represents the best that we can be. ben and all the men and women of the military deserve our heartfelt gratitude and respect. thank you, sir. ms. . [applause] in honor of those who serve in the armed forces, my budget contains funding for additional veteran service offices.
it also includes money to begin the first phase to build a new, stand-alone veterans home in northern nevada to complement the veterans home in boulder city. [applause] nevada cherishes its veterans, and these resources will help insure that our service members receive the benefits they deserve. we owe the men and women who serve our country nothing less than total victory. prison -- [applause] ladies and gentlemen, by doing all of these things we are laying the groundwork for the future of our children and their families. they are the foundation of my budget and will continue to be the primary focus of my
administration. my executive budget that will be transmitted to the legislature tonight represents general fund spending of approximately $6.5 billion for the next two years which is a modest increase over my last budget. caseload growth in health and human services drives much of this increase. my commitment to k-12 education has also increased spending for our schools. but we must only allow for growth that our fragile economic recovery can bear. in this budget we've reduced the tax burden on local businesses, we've addressed increasing caseloads, and we've begun to diversify our economy. the social service net is stronger. support for education is increased. and nevadans will continue to benefit from the overarching
policy of this administration throughout this economic down turn. that is, we cannot cut our way out, we cannot tax our way out, we can only grow our way out. [applause] as nevada prepares to celebrate 150 years of statehood, we must also consider how far we have come and prepare for what lies ahead. 2014 is not just the anniversary of nevada's statehood. it also marks the centennial year of the approval of women's suffrage in our state. nevada gave women the right to vote in 1914, five years before the rest of the nation adopted the 19th amendment in 1919.
[applause] it is my hope that the celebration of women's suffrage and the commemoration of nevada's 150th birthday will provide a joint platform of examining who we are and who we can be. nevadans are rightfully proud of their history. we are also cognizant of the world around us. and we are ever mindful of those students whose faces inspire us to plan big for a bright future. tonight we can take pride in our progress. the table has been set by economic improvements, and we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel. but problems persist, and they demand our attention such as the
current context in which i have come before you tonight to describe the budget and the policy agenda placed before the 77th session of the legislature. it is a context of improvement, realism and, yes, optimism. it is a context in which we are cast again in the role of problem solvers. my plan represents the next phase of recovery and rebuilding. tonight we prepare to embark on a legislative session that i hope will set an example for bipartisanship. two years ago we gathered in difficulty and confronted a time of triage. then we were consumed by the effort simply to stop the freefall. tonight we come together to
further stabilize our state and lay a stronger foundation for its future. [applause] from the vantage point of this new foundation, from the watershed moment of our 150th birthday, we can cast our gaze to the horizon, to the world we want for the graduating class of 2023; an educated and healthy citizenry, a vibrant and sustainable economy, safe and livable communities and an efficient and responsive state government. [applause]
each step we will take, indeed, each of the many steps taken over the last two years is coming together to reveal a map of promise and opportunity. and i know in my heart it will guide us not just where we want to go, but where we must. i'm proud to serve as your governor, i'm proud to call nevada my home. god bless all of you, god bless the great state of nevada and god bless the united states of america, the greatest nation on earth. thank you. [applause]
members of the 63rd legislature, governor and mrs. babcock, honored members of the judiciary, my fellow tate wide officials -- statewide officials, tribal leaders, members of my cabinet and my fellow montanans, lisa, alex and cameron, my name is steve, and i work for the state. [laughter] i, like those 12,000 other coworkers, arrive at the job seat each day to serve the people of montana. it's an honor and a pleasure to be the public servant entrusted with giving this address. any changes of administration
naturally will bring changes to the governor's mansion. changes in substance, changes in style, changes in perspective. with the bullocks moving into the neighborhood, some of those changes are unavoidable. [laughter] you know, it's been 40 years since the predominant noise emanating from the governor's mansion has been the sound of children; charen laughing, sing -- children laughing, sunging, shouting, playing, just being kids. that noise will be a daily reminder for me. and i hope a reminder for each of you as well of the reason we were sent here. montana voters sent us here to make our children's and our grandchildren's future brighter, more hopeful and more prosperous here in the state of montana. [applause]
now, if we're genuine in our concern for our children's future, we'll be as careful with the state's money as we teach our children to be with theirs. if we accept that this is more about their generation than ours, we'll enter this building every single day trying to make it so they have even greater opportunities than each and every one of of us had. if we're truly committed to making our children's future brighter, we'll invest in our education system from before they enter kindergarten to the time they leave higher education, we must prepare them to succeed in a 31st sent -- 21st century economy. and if we're sincere in our concern for the next generation, how we deal with one another matters. not only during this session, but throughout the campaigns that bring us to hold these
positions of public trust. every day our kids watch what we do, and every today they learn from us -- every day they learn from us. so members of the 63rd legislature, what i ask of you tonight is simple, and it's straightforward. first, be responsible with our budget, because i won't allow us to spend more than we take in or make cuts that undermine our long-term stability. second, join me in focusing on creating jobs, improving our system of education and making government or more effective. and lastly, act in a manner that we're not ashamed of our children watching, because they are. i'm taking these principles to heart, and we've already hit the ground running to better, create better jobs, better schools and a more effective government. a company recently came to the
state of montana and said they'd like to locate a manufacturing facility in great falls, but they needed a work force ready for the high-tech welding and fitting that they do. these high-paying jobs are exactly the kind that we should have here in montana. that's why we've already been working with great falls college. they'll begin training workers to fill these jobs x this company is now committed to moving to the electric city. [applause] now, as part of the new program, we'll also insure, though, that students of high schools in great falls can graduate with the certificates that would make them attractive candidates for this company as well. so not only is that better jobs,
but it's better education. and i pledge to also bring a more effective government to montana, and we're doing that already as well. tomorrow for the first time ever montana's checkbook will be online. [applause] what we'll have, and we'll still be improving it, but we'll have a searchable database so that anyone in montana or anybody across the world, for that matter, can look at how we're spending the taxpayers' money. it's the right thing to do, and it will lead to a more effective government. while there's some things that i can accomplish without your active engagement and partnership, there are other areas where we need each other. we need each other if we're going to make progress.
crafting a budget is one of those areas. montana is then i have of other -- is the envy of other states. our unemployment's lower and our economy sounder. while every other state's budget, almost every other state's budget is awash in red ink, thanks to solid fiscal management, montana's amassed a half a billion dollar budget surplus. our state is strong, and it's growing stronger. [applause] to continue improving our positions, i think montanaenns want us to take a balanced approach. saving some ought to be such l. -- simple. i've asked that you leave this session with rainy day fund, enough money in the bank so that i don't have to call you back to helena in eight months or a year
from now. that means we're going to have to prioritize just like the families do in each of our districts. our priorities must start with addressing the essential services montanans need and the long-term liabilities that those before we arrived created for us. keep in mind that if i pull out my veto pen, it may not be personal. it may just be fiscal. we can also invest some. i ask you to join me in prioritizing job creation, education and a more effective government. i'll start with a twofer. the first step you should take this creating jobs and investing in education is to put politics aside and pass the jobs bill.
[cheers and applause] sometimes all it takes is one. [laughter] you know, as montanans we've earned a reputation for working harder than our counterparts in any other state in the country. the quality of our workers attracts businesses here, but we can't expect to develop a 21st century work force in 20th century conditions. the next generation of plumbers and welders, nurses and imaging techs, diesel mechanics and carpenter, they really are learning their trades in substandard facilities. the my siewl la college was built in 1956 for 700 students. it now has an enrollment approaching 3,000. last week i visited the all the motive and diesel program. it has a 100% placement rate,
and some graduates we were a starting salary a heck of a lot better than a governor. laugh but without our investment, the program can't continue to grow. and it's not just missoula. many of our facilities are outdated and operating beyond their capacity. the young montanans who are willing to invest in higher education really do deserve better. that's why representative galen haul and i along with member obviously the groups like the montana chamber of commerce, so many others, have joined together to propose record investments in educational facilities. it's called the jobs bill which stands for jobs and opportunities by building schools. we can take advantage of historically low interest rates and immediately create thousands of jobs across the state. and we can do it without raising taxes. [applause]
so, please, let's stand together. and let's stand together with the over 2500 construction workers we want to put to work across the state for our world class work force. and while we're at it, let's make sure those 2500-plus construction workers newly employed by the jobs bill are our friends and our neighbors. right now we have a law on the books that's supposed to require that at least half of the workers on any construction project funded by state or local tax dollars will montana residents. but it's riddled with loopholes, and it's not enforceable. when taxpayer money is funding a project, let's put montana companies and montana workers first. [cheers and applause]
again, together we can work together to close these loopholes, expand the requirement to all projects, too, not just construction. and let's also significantly increase the proportion of montana workers required on any state or locally-funded project. i hope you'll join representative amanda curtis and i to pass this measures so we can put more money in the hands of montana businesses and create more jobs for our montana workers. and as we put montana companies and workers first, we must not forget the first montanans. in my budget i proposed full funneling for indian country economic development. i also insisted that the funding become permanent so year after year american indians don't have to come hat in hand asking for these job-creating funds. unfortunately, in the first few
weeks of the legislature that funding's already been cut in half. i ask of this body, if you're serious about job creation for all montanans, restore full funding for indian country economic development and make that funding permanent. [applause] now, we know that investing in our students and educational institutions, it requires more than just the bricks and the mortar that are in the jobs bill. for generations the quality of our education system has been recognized as the key to economic growth and job creation. but our public schools are more than that. they are truly, truly the great equalizer. regardless of where we are born or or how wealthy our parents
are, our public schools open the doors of opportunities to all montanans. they even helped the kid who couldn't and still really can't stand still -- [laughter] become governor of the greatest state in the country. [laughter] [applause] as the father of a fifth and second grader and a kindergartener, no issue is more important to me than extending the opportunities afforded by a good education to montana's next generation. and our schools and the incredible teachers who educate our kids, they do give us much to celebrate. montana eighth graders outperform every other state in the nation in reading and math, and we're second in science. [applause] our high school graduation rates
are up, and our drop rate is down. and we're -- dropout rate is down. and we're increasing the rate at which montana redealts are -- residents are getting college degrees faster than any other state in the nation, but we're not done. it's not where we start, it's where we finish. we know an educated work force is the foundation for a prosperous economy. so let's actually commit to increasing the number of adults with a postsecondary degree or professional certification. let's commit to at least 60% over the next said. that's an ambitious goal. we're at about 40%. but the future of the state will be shaped on these goals and what our work force is. i've asked commissioner of higher education to join me in committing to this goal. i ask the same of you, because we can't do it without you. this is one of those goals that
we're in it together. i've included proposals in this budget that move us in that direction, offering college classes to more high school students will help them recognize that higher education is within their reach, and it'll give them a jump-start on earning college credits. that's why i'm asking you to help our two-year colleges expand and enhance those dual credit programs. if a student starts at dylan, they shouldn't have to reapply and get financial aid if they want to transfer to butte. we can make it easier for students by finally creating something that should have been done a long time ago, a universal system of enrollment so students at miles community college have access to courses in montana state university. so we can help bridge the hundreds of miles between our rural areas and our universities. i ask you to pass that. [applause]
and we aren't going to produce more college graduates if the cost of college is beyond the reach of montana families. let's not kid ourselves. as cautious as this body is about raising taxes, when tuition increases because higher education isn't adequately funded, that's a tax on thousands, tens of thousands of working montana families all across our state. my budget inclusion agreement to freeze tuition across the university system. i urge you to honor that agreement. [applause] many college students have recently returned home from serving our country in the armed
forces. these soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and women must know that our state will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. this morning i went out to the airport, and i was the first montanan to get to welcome 45 soldiers from the montana national guard who had just taken a year of their life and spent it in afghanistan. i told them our commitment was strong, and the lieutenant governor and i would insure that we live up to the promise that all of us made to them when they signed up. that's why i've asked this legislature to invest in our university system and make certain that we're providing the services and space to meet veterans' needs, the wrap around services that will reintegrate these heroes back into civilian life and onto our college campuses. when i got back from the airport, i found out that while i was gone the legislative
committee cut funding for these critical services for returning vets. i urge you to restore these funds. live up to the promises that we've made and welcome these warriors home with more than just words. [applause] you know, if we're serious, though, about training tomorrow's work force, our commitment must begin not when our kids first enter college or not when they enter the work force, but our commitment has to begin when they first enter the world. we can't wait until kindergarten to take an interest. the evidence is compelling. every dollar we invest in early childhood education returns up to $9 in our communities.
early learning programs work. children involved in early education, they do better in math and english. they're much more likely to graduate high school. they're a third less likely to be arrested as a juvenile. unfortunately, though, montana's dead last in the nation, 50th out of 50, in state investment in early childhood education. and to me, that's unacceptable. we can't expect head start and other federally-funded programs to carry the entire burden. some local communities have stepped in to make sure these youngsters are given a better chance. great falls, one example, they saw that a modest investment in a pre-k program led to a dramatic shut in kindergarten -- shift in kindergarten readiness, setting the kids in this state on a much better path for the
future. other communities across our state have seen the same. as a first step, i encourage this body to expand the proven stars to quality program and make the long overdue investment in school readiness. i've laid out a plan that'll create a hundred more high quality early childhood programs, getting 600 more families and a thousand more children ready for school. each year. it's a proven high-return investment that will produce long-lived benefits for the students and our economy. [applause] and our commitment, though, it can't be just in college, it can't be in early learning, it must continue throughout their schooling. in the 1980s, voters created the montana lottery specifically to fund montana schools. but by the 1990s the
legislature began raiding those funds for noneducation projects. it's time we did right by our bosses and their kids. i'd ask for your support of my proposal to return the profits from the lottery to the public schools as they were intended to support. [applause] my budget, it also includes additional funding for the highly successful jobs for montana's graduates program. i first learned about this program from governor mark rosco who had brought it to montana. the graduation rate for at-risk teens involved in this program is an amazing 98%. the vast majority of these graduates then go on to jobs, military service or higher education. after just 14 months on the job, the taxes these kids pay have
already paid for more than the investment that we as a state have made in them. please do support an expansion of that program. [applause] additionally, technology has pushed us into a global marketplace, but far too many of our schools are lagging behind. the phones in our pockets have better internet access than some of the classes around our state. that's why i support further investing in our schools and using state resources to help school districts modernize and acquire today's technology. and yet we can and we will work together to invest in and improve our schools. in making even modest investments in early childhood education and technology improvements in our schools, i'm asking you to look beyond the meet, beyond this session --
beyond the immediate, beyond this session or each beyond the length of time that you and i get to serve in public office. and it's not always easy, investing now for later returns. but that's what leaders do. i'm asking you to look beyond the immediate in other areas too, including transforming the way that we deliver health care so we can create jobs and take care of those who need our help the most. to have a healthy economy, we need to have healthy citizens. for those of us with health insurance, we're paying too much, and we're getting too little. and for the tens of thousands of montanans who don't have insurance, the emergency room has become a primary care facility pushing costs for all of us even higher. the fact is subsidizing expensive yard care for the
uninsured costs montanans $300 million a year. that makes no sense when there's smarter, cheaper ways to provide better care. through access health montana, we're proposing a made-of in in-montana solution designed to create access to care. it also feature a patient-centered delivery system that foxes on coordinating care -- focuses on coordinating care and improving health rather than simply treating the illness. implementing these measures will allow us to control and ultimately lower the cost of care, slowing the annual rate hikes that hit all of our wallets. this is an opportunity to e reduce costs -- to reduce costs and, panned access to -- expand access to quality care for nearly 70,000 montanans. [applause]
and, you know, it's more than that though. access health will create more than 5,000 new jobs next year alone by bringing millions of dollars of new economic activity to montana. it'll cut costs by improving preventive care, and it'll cut costs because those with insurance are much more likely to visit a doctor than just visit the emergency room. medicaid expansion is federally funded, so if montana does not expand its medicaid program, then our tax dollars will be used to help patients in states like arizona, nevada and north
dakota, states where republican governors are leading the effort to expand medicaid. let me make that point abum adaptly clear -- abundantly clear. if we fail to act, montana taxpayer dollars will be used to provide health care to citizens thousands of miles away while our rates will continue to go up year after year. it's time we set the politics aside on this issue. poll tucks won't -- politics won't treat diabetes. extremism doesn't create jobs. and intransigence won't provide health care for those whocan't afford it. [cheers and applause]
under access health montana, though, it's also doing other thinning. i also proposed by increasing by 25% the number of -- [inaudible] in the whammy program which allows montana med cool students to attend medical school with other students in the northwest. the program's been extremely successful in encouraging our montanans to come back to our cities and our towns and our rural communities and open up their practice. but there hasn't been an increase in the number of slots for the whammy program in over two decades. for that and other reasons, tonight i ask each and every member of this legislature to take the longer view, lead the way by focusing on health and welfare of our neighbors, to put montanans first and use their hard-earned tax dollars wisely.
[applause] it's that same longer view that allow montana -- it's that same longer view that will help montana to lead america to energy independence. with responsible development of our coal, wind, oil and gas, hydropower, biofuels and geothermal capacity, we are creating jobs, and we are strengthening our rural economies. but for some communities in eastern montana, the rapid growth associated with the energy boom is creating immediate infrastructure challenges. that's why i've proposed creating a grant program for communities affected by oil and gas development. i ask that we invest $15 million in providing matching funds to affected cities and towns, areas that don't always get a share of
the increased revenues that county governments and school districts receive from oil and gas development. there are challenges, but there's opportunities for the whole state with this development. i do hope that you'll join me in addressing those challenges. [applause] we must also meet our responsibility to fix a long-term problem created by our predecessors. i've outlined a detailed plan that will shore up our public retirement systems and do so without raising taxes. i look forward to working with this body to insure that we craft a plan that honors our commitment to montana's public servants, a plan that doesn't go back on the promises we made to the snowplow driver, prison
guards, teachers and other middle class workers or who are our friends and our neighbor. as i've already described to you, saving some for rainy day, i think, is simple. i also believe that we can wisely invest our resources to create jobs and improve education. and with a half a billion dollar surplus, giving back some ought to be equally simple. i believe we're more likely to create jobs if we invest in working families, small businesses, farmers and ranchers and students. in my book ab investment -- an investment in main street in montana is an investment that'll pay off right here in montana. [applause] now, some disagree with me. they believe we'd be better off if we focused on helping multi-national corporations that
could have their headquarters in pennsylvania, a p.o. box in delaware, bankers in new york and lobbyists in helena and in washington d.c. don't get me wrong, other than when they're spending their shareholder dollars in our elections, i love those out-of-state corporations that hire montanans and invest in our community. [laughter] [applause] i welcome those corporations and want to work with them to create jobs and invest in our state. but when montana's already ranked as having one of the country's best tax climates in the nationing for business -- in the nation for business, let's never allow misinformation to be the motivation for misstep thes. let's evaluate tax rebates and tax cuts with our eyes wide open. [applause]
i propose returning $100 million back to the pockets of montana home openers. homeowners. i recognize that others have suggested that we should use that $100 million to provide property tax cuts instead. the difference between the tax rebate and the tax cut is simple: who stands to benefit? given $100 million back in the form of a tax rebate will return $400 to everyone that has primary residence in the state. when you put a check in the hands of montana taxpayers, they're going to take that money down town, and they're going to spend it in the small businesses along main street. if you take that $100 million and use it to cut property taxes ip sed, the average montana homeowner would receive $44 this
year, not $400. think about that. it will take ten years for the taxpayer to get back as much money as they'd get this year with a rebate. yet if you're a company like pp and l that proposed tax cut would reward you with over $1 million this year alone. that's 23,000 times more than the average homeowner would receive. if we consider and we earnestly consider who stands to benefit from our actions, to me the path that we should take becomes clear. we have the opportunity to return money to hard working montanans, create $100 million of economic activity here in montana. the rebate won't blow long-term holes in our budget. it won't saddle future legislatures or future
generations with the washington, d.c.-style deficits that montana's avoided during this she -- during this recession. let's not miss this chance. [applause] same goes for cuts to the business equipment taxes. the last legislature reduced this tax rate across the board for every company in the state. let's take the next step, though, and let's eliminate this tax for 11,000 montana businesses. two-thirds of the businesses that pay it lt -- that pay it. doing so will directly benefit mainstream businesses in each of your communities. making and selling candy here in helena since 1922.
under my proposal, they would no longer pay this tax. chinook windows in great falls, it manufactures and it distributes windows that can stand up to the harsh montana climates. they can use the business equipment tax dollars they've been paying to further invest in their business. under my proposal the iron horse in missoula, it would also have a little bit or more breathing room in their bottom line. from manufacturers to restaurants to taverns to service providers, 11,000 montana businesses will no longer pay this tax, freeing up thousands of dollars they can invest in their businesses or employees. we have the opportunity to stand with the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses in this state. let's not miss this chance. [applause]
finally, as we focus on creating jobs, investing in education and making government more effective, let's always behave in a manner that will make our chirp proud. make our children proud. i've already been trying to change the tone in in the halls of this building. i hope you'll join me in doing so. i hope you'll also join me in preserving the integrity of our elections. a hundred years ago our ancestors came together not as democrats or republicans, but as montanans to take control of their destiny. these forward-thinking montanans knew that our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy, should be about principles, our ideas, our beliefs and our plans for the future. our campaigns should be vigorous debates about the problems we face and those opportunities
that lie ahead. and they knew that government should be about people, lending a hand no those who need -- a hand to those who need it better in this place, insuring that the next generation has opportunities even greater than we enjoy. and i truly think in the last hundred years since then our leaders have always been our friends and our neighbors, and they have looked out for our interests. in the century following the pass only r -- passage act, montana has benefited from a strong citizen democracy. in the past several years, however, more money than ever, though, has been spent on our political campaigns, both at the national level and here in montana. as attorney general, i fought to preserve our citizen democracy and stem the tide of corporate money in our elections. [applause]
we've seen the rise of dark money groups that target candidates yet refuse to tell the voting public who they really are and what they really represent. they hide behind maid-up names -- made-up p names and made-up newspapers. they operate out of p.o. boxes or washington, d.c. office buildings. they falsely proclaim themselves the guardian of montana's traditions. these groups believe they can violate our laws and corrupt our government in order to create a system that benefits special interests. montanans deserve better. [applause] b the entire nation is looking
to us to continue our fight to preserve our citizen democracy. we see it as regular, all of you coming from all corners, committing your time and energy for 90 days here. other states are astounded, other states don't always have the citizen democracy and the legislature that we have. we can show those people who believe elections could be bought and sold what democracy really means. it's government for the people, by the people and of the people. help mel reform our -- help me reform our laws. help me do so so that any organization spending money during the course of an election just reveals the amount it spends and the course of its
money. this is a modest proposal. help me make sure that as voters and as investors we know who's spending and how much. together let's guarantee that our elections will never be auctions controlled by anonymous bidders. [applause] and i think in looking forward truly we owe nothing less to those ancestors from a hundred years ago, and we owe nothing less to our kids who will inherit the government that we're all running today. you know, there's an old saying that if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. but i think we do know where montana must go: better jobs, better schools and a more effective government. we have a lot of work to do, but
tremendous opportunities lie ahead. let's use our time in office wisely each and every one of us. let's build on but not be constrained by the progress of the past. let's be resolute in keeping our focus forward and to the future. and at the end of any one of our terms, yours or mine, we will be measured by the progress we made. and the true measure, it won't be taken by politicians, or it won't be taken by pun kits. the -- pundits. the true measure will be by our chirp and our grandchildren. -- our children and grandchildren. let's not forget that it's to them that we are most accountable. good bless montana's children and families, god bless montana, god bless america x thank you for letting me be before you this evening. [cheers and applause]